Apr 26, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Planet 316

I have always loved puzzles but I have never really had a good place to spread out and put together a jigsaw puzzle of any size. Kids will have that effect on your life, I guess. So I generally tend to stick to online puzzles, where the kids can't eat or otherwise lose any pieces. So naturally I was pleased when I was asked to review Daily Bible Jigsaw, an app from Planet 316.

Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

This app can currently be played at

I played it on Facebook, because that is where I generally play games. It was nice to have options to consider though.

Set up was easy, and I was given 500 coins to facilitate the review. The coins cost real money:

  • $39.99 for 500
  • $19.99 for 250
  • $9.99 for 115
  • $4.99 for 55

The jigsaw puzzles are lovely pictures of nature or adorable pictures of animals (my kids sure loved those!) and they are all matched with an uplifting Scripture verse.

 Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

You are given one free puzzle each day. All other puzzles cost you three coins. You can solve any past puzzle, even all the way back to last September. And you can replay any puzzle you have solved. (In case you want to try to beat your time...)

The puzzles are timed, and, since I was playing on Facebook, I could compare my times with friends who are already playing as well as challenge other friends to beat my times. I could also share my finished puzzles on my timeline. (I was kinda hoping this would earn me some coins, but it didn't. ... It should.)

There are "cheats" available, which you can see in the above screenshot, all pretty self explanatory. These cheats all cost coins, so I chose not to use them. (I have a lot of Scots ancestors, what can I say.) Besides, if it's too easy, where's the fun?

Speaking of which, I really liked that these puzzles require you to rotate the pieces. It makes it more of a challenge when you don't know which way they are supposed to go, just like in a real puzzle.

Another thing I liked was that you could earn coins in different ways:

  • solving a certain number of puzzles
  • solving a puzzle in less than 5, 2 or 1 minute (I haven't made it in under 2 minutes yet)
  • solving a certain number of puzzles from each day of the week
  • finding a connecting piece to a specific piece within a timeframe (this is offered each puzzle and earns you a coin, so once you get good at this, your puzzles really only cost you 2 coins)
And there are some bonus puzzles as well.

I have greatly enjoyed solving the lovely puzzles on Daily Bible Jigsaw. The only thing I would change is to be able to choose the number of pieces you receive. This was the perfect amount of pieces for my kids, but as I said before, I love a challenge and having more pieces to work with would make it harder. So it would be great if we could each chose the number we wanted for each puzzle.

Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Apr 21, 2017

Homeschool Mom Struggles

I went to the bathroom during school. When I returned, this was the only student I had left.

Apr 18, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Readers in Residence

Around here, we are big readers. Well, most of us are. A couple of us still need a little encouragement to become bookworms. That's why I was pleased to be asked to review the brand new offering from Apologia Educational Ministries, their "read to learn" program: Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) Full Set.

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence

Readers in Residence consists of two books. One is the answer key. This book contains grading rubrics, twenty-six pages of instruction to the teacher on how to use the program (including adapting the program to include siblings of different ages and adapting it to use in a co-op setting) and all of the answers to the questions in the student's book.

The Student Text and Workbook is a huge, spiral-bound, consumable book written directly to the student. It is seriously huge, but you have to take into account that it is meant to take you 32 weeks to complete it.

The aim of the program is to read and study three genres of fiction, build vocabulary, use skills to increase reading comprehension, complete projects and share what the student as learned through book clubs and discussions.

The program is divided into six units with a different book for each unit. Three of the books are student's (or teacher's) choice and the other three are:

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Charlotte's Web
Because of Winn-Dixie

The three student's choice or "On your own" books are chosen from the following categories:

Historical fiction
Animal Fantasy
any genre of fiction you like

There are half a dozen suggestions for each category.

The books are not a part of the package, you need to purchase those on your own.

The book starts with a suggested daily schedule based on a four day week, which we found most doable.

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence

The workbook is consumable and cannot be copied, so I had to decide which child to use this with. It is intended for use by children in the fourth grade and up. I have a fourth grader and a fifth grader, both of which were late and slow to read, but my fourth grader has already made the plunge into reading for the fun of it, and my fifth grader has not, so I chose him.

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For the purpose of this review, we stuck pretty closely to the schedule and just followed the instructions in the workbook. We did not, however, start a book club as he and his little sister are already in a book club that we love very much.

I loved that this was an open and go curriculum. There was zero prep, and in theory, I could hand it to my student and let them have at it because all the instructions (even when to read each portion of the go-along books) are right there in the workbook. For my son, though, it was a lot of informational reading, so I read it aloud to him and then we worked through the answers together. The amount of writing was not an issue for him, but sometimes the lines given for him to use were not enough. We overcame this issue in several different ways, depending on the day. Sometimes I would have him start on the page and then finish his answer on extra paper. Sometimes I would just let him answer orally. Sometimes I would scribe for him.

He enjoyed working with me and I got few complaints even though he was doing his absolute least favorite subject. He doesn't really struggle with vocabulary and comprehension, but my goal with Readers in Residence is that he understands the beauty and the art behind literature. I want him to love reading and I am hoping this will give him that. So far, so good.

So many literature programs use questions that are vague and analytical but I appreciated that Readers in Residence uses much more practical and concrete questions that did not cause my mathematically inclined boy to roll his eyes and sigh. He enjoyed the fact that there were right and wrong answers to the questions.

Some of the work (capitalization and punctuation) was a little below his ability, but we just skipped the bits he did not need to work on and it was no big deal.

All in all, we highly recommend Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) Full Set for both bookworms and reluctant readers alike. But don't just take our word for it, you can see free samples and read the FAQ for yourself. You can also click on the banner below to see what other Crew members think!

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

Crew Disclaimer

Apr 15, 2017

Luke 24


Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”

8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

Apr 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: CompuScholar, Inc

I have a couple of boys that absolutely love technology. They don't even really care so much what they are doing, they just want to push buttons and make things happen. I, however, do care what they are doing. I am constantly on the lookout for technology that makes them producers and not consumers. So we were all three pleased when they got the opportunity to review Web Design from CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design

Web Design is an online program to teach kids how to design using HTML and CSS. The course is intended for middle school and high school kids. The curriculum consists of twenty-eight chapters. It is intended for your student to take an entire year to finish the course. 

The program consists of videos for the kids to watch, text for them to read, quizzes for them to take, and projects for them to complete. Each of these are sorted into Chapters and Lessons. It is easy for them to see and click on the button they need to do next. 
I am not a tech-savvy person, so I mostly just let the boys do their thing and I stood back and watched. They are thirteen and eleven and it was fairly easy for them to use on their own. They worked on it regularly. Not daily, but as often as I would let them. Nate went through this course back when it was Homeschool Programming and has done other similar programs before, so he was not only able to go through the lessons fairly easily, but was also able to help Daniel whenever he had questions.

They each had their own log in and the program kept track of their progress, grading their quizzes and doing all the calculations to produce an overall grade. I was able to keep an eye on their work and their grades with my own dashboard. I could see what videos they had watched, what text files they had read and what their quiz  and test grades were at a glance. I could also access the same lessons they had along with a Teacher's Guide and answers to the quizzes and tests. 

I was impressed with this course. I loved that the boys could do it on their own and I didn't have to know anything in order for them to succeed. I loved that the boys enjoyed it and that they learned so much. It was greatly improved from the former version and Nate learned a ton from it even though he had gone through it a few years ago. 

Here is what the boys say:

Nate: It teaches how to use html. It covers all of the little details so that you absolutely know how to do what you are supposed to do. The next lesson then helps you process the original one and then gives you more information. I think that anyone could learn from this program. It is insanely helpful. 

Daniel: It was fun because it taught me how to program. It also taught me how to save things onto different files. It also taught me that web pages are different on different browsers. It taught me that web pages look different on different computers. It was easy to use.

CompuScholar, Inc also offers Digital Savvy and Java Programming. The courses can be paid for either monthly or as a one year subscription. 
Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Apr 9, 2017


Kaytie and Nate were in a play put on by our co-op. They performed The Stinky Cheese Man. Nate was a hungry old man and Kaytie was a rude duck. They both did a great job! All of the cast were awesome. 

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